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Schools join Parks and Rec to hire community recreation and education director

Littleton resident Kevin Mitrano will fill Harvard’s newly created position of director of community recreation and education, having been chosen from a field of 20 applicants. Mitrano comes to the job with a decade of experience in summer camps, town recreation programs, and schools. He is expected to start his new position at the beginning of August.

Although town officials discussed creating a recreation director position several years ago, it has been a joint effort by the school administration and the Parks and Recreation Commission that brought the idea to fruition this year. Mitrano will report to both the school superintendent and to Parks and Rec.

On the school side, Mitrano’s responsibilities will include overseeing community education and also Bridges, the before- and after-school program. In previous years, Deb Mayo managed the school Bridges program, and Judy Cavanaugh led community education. But both women retired this year, and Mitrano will now direct both programs.

At the moment, community education’s main offering is Summer Adventure, which provides seven weeks of vacation activities for students entering grades K-6. But School Committee members and Superintendent Linda Dwight have said they hope to see community education offerings grow to include a much wider range of courses. Mitrano would be in charge of developing those new courses and recruiting instructors for them.

On the recreation side, Mitrano will have overall responsibility for much of the Parks and Rec work now done by the commission’s volunteer members, according to commission Chair Bob O’Shea. That work will include budgeting and hiring; overseeing the beach program (through the beach director), the track clinic, the ski program, and more; inspecting work done on the sports fields and the beach; and coordinating with other town officials and departments.

‘A nice marriage’

O’Shea described the new arrangement as “a nice marriage,” because, for example, many kids who attend Bridges also take swimming lessons through Parks and Rec at the beach. He pointed out that Littleton has successfully combined the management of community education and recreation programs.

Both Dwight and O’Shea have said they expect the position to be self-funded. In the beginning, all the costs for the director’s position—and for an administrative assistant still to be hired—will be paid by the schools, from fees charged to families for Bridges, Summer Adventure, and other community education programs.

Mitrano’s starting salary is about $70,000, while the part-time assistant will likely be in the range of $20,000 to $25,000. In addition, Dwight expects all the community education programs together to continue to provide a $40,000 offset to the school budget, even after accounting for the new salaries.

In 2018 and 2019, the whole group of community education programs—including the Bridges summer program and several smaller programs—brought in close to $400,000 a year before expenses. The community education fund (fund 215 in the town annual reports) carried a balance of more than $100,000 from year to year. But in 2020 revenues fell sharply, and by the end of 2020 that balance had shrunk to $25,000.

O’Shea said in a phone interview that Parks and Rec may be able to contribute some money as Mitrano expands its recreational offerings to bring in more income.

According to his resume, Mitrano has been recreation leader for the town of Brookline since early 2019, managing five day camps. He has also been director of operations for the MetroWest YMCA at its outdoor education center in Hopkinton since February 2020. Before that, he was executive director of Brantwood Camp in Peterborough, New Hampshire, from 2014 to 2018. He had directed the boys program at Brantwood before going to Cambridge College, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in 2010. He has been a safety specialist for the Cambridge public schools and has also coached ice hockey for both boys and girls at Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School.

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